It is important that any rabbit is handled regularly, ideally from a young age. The younger they are when they start being handled the more confident they are likely to be as adults.
If you have adopted an older rabbit who is timid or unused to being handled, you can still teach them to accept and even enjoy handling. It just might take a little longer!
Young or old slow and steady wins the race when teaching rabbits to accept handling. Let them set the pace and approach you. Start with just getting them to take a treat, then progress to light stroking. If they back away, don’t persevere and let them have some quiet time.
Once your rabbit is happy sending time with you for strokes, you can move on to picking them up.
Rabbits that aren’t used to being handled can suffer:
- They are more likely to injure themselves due to struggling when being handled.
- They may damage or break their limbs or back jumping from height if not safely restrained.
- They are less likely to have vital social interactions if they are difficult to handle.
Don’t forget even well-handled rabbits can startle, so it’s important to keep a safe, firm grip on even the most sociable of bunnies.